Sources — Pac-12, Big Ten, ACC in preliminary discussions about forming alliance, likely around scheduling

Written by on August 14, 2021

The Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC have had preliminary discussions about forming an alliance, likely built around scheduling but possibly other areas, sources told ESPN.

Commissioners George Kliavkoff (Pac-12), Kevin Warren (Big Ten) and Jim Phillips (ACC) have been in regular communication, and have also had some in-person discussions. Kliavkoff and Warren were together this week for Rose Bowl meetings. Pac-12 sources said all three commissioners met last week in Chicago.

“I’ve been in frequent and regular contact with all of the other A5 commissioners the last few weeks about the four or five complex issues that are facing our industry,” Kliavkoff told ESPN on Friday night. “Anything beyond that is just speculation, and I can’t comment on it.”

Messages left for both Phillips and Warren were not immediately returned.

Kliavkoff could not confirm last week’s meeting in Chicago. Kliavkoff also met last week with Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, whose league is reeling from the impending departures of Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC.

Sources said the Big 12 is not currently included in discussions surrounding an alliance with other Power 5 conferences. Bowlsby told the Texas state senate on Aug. 2 that he thought there “are options for us to partner with other conferences. There may be opportunity for mergers.”

Athletic directors in two of the leagues discussing an alliance told ESPN that nonconference scheduling likely would be the focus, but that there aren’t many details yet. The SEC’s addition of Texas and Oklahoma, plus commissioner Greg Sankey’s involvement in proposing a 12-team expanded College Football Playoff model, has been seen as an attempt to consolidate power.

“There is some alignment in us against them a little bit,” a Power 5 athletic director said.

The next major CFP meeting is set for Sept. 28 in Chicago.

The Athletic first reported the potential alliance between the Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC.

— ESPN’s David Hale contributed to this report.

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